Skip to main content

Authorities say tanker truck driver was not trying to harm protesters on I-35W bridge in Minneapolis

Gov. Walz said the driver feels lucky that he wasn't killed.
Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.51.01 PM

The driver of a tanker truck that sped towards thousands of protesters Sunday evening on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis was not intentionally trying to injure or kill people, according to an update from state leaders on Monday. 

"We have not had any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act," said John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

"We do have some info that he was speeding," explained Harrington. "We do have some info that he saw the crowd and initially he panicked and he just kept barreling forward.

"Then he saw a young woman on a bike fall down in front of him and he slammed on the brakes. And he slid until the vehicle stopped."

Gov. Tim Walz said the driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, "feels incredibly lucky that he did not kill someone," adding that even though he was assaulted after stopping the 18-wheeler he "is really lucky Minnesota showed some of their better angels and he did not get killed."

Video from the incident revealed that many peaceful protesters were trying to protect Vechirko before handing him over to police, who arrived on the bridge within minutes. 

Vechirko was treated at a local hospital and then taken into custody and booked into the Hennepin County Jail on Sunday night. It's unclear yet if he'll face any criminal charges. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Harrington said the driver was already on the freeway when MnDOT was rushing to close entrance ramps in a last-minute decision to shut down freeways and highways in and out of Minneapolis and St. Paul due to protesters marching on the interstates. 

"We know that the driver of the tanker truck was on the freeway already. He was on 94 already and he turned onto 35 before we got barricades or trucks there to block off his access to 35. This was his second run of the day. He was running empty, there was no fuel in that tanker truck," said Harrington.

The freeways and highways in and out of Minneapolis and St. Paul were originally planned to be closed at 8 p.m., with the late decision made to shut them down by 5 p.m. to protect protesters on the major arteries. 

Next Up

ambulance

1 dead, 2 with life-threatening injuries in Minnesota crash

The crash happened just after 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Image (1)

School bus carrying students plunges into river southwest of Fargo

None of the kids suffered life-threatening injuries, though some were taken to area hospitals.

Richfield High School

Richfield High School cancels weekend events after shooting

Two men were shot outside the school's football stadium

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 10.21.38 PM

Sound of shots, mass panic at Richfield football game streamed live on YouTube

Gunfire caused panic at a varsity football game Friday night.

J. Gordon

K-9 search leads to $36K fentanyl seizure during traffic stop

A traffic stop was made after the vehicle was seen speeding through the area.

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 5.20.08 PM

Gov. Walz reacts to Tuesday death of Mankato West student

The governor is a former geography teacher at the high school.

court room

Teen pleads guilty to Minneapolis carjacking, admits to others

The man was yanked out of the vehicle by witnesses before fleeing the scene.

Federal court house

Three plead guilty to roles in murder on Red Lake Reservation

The 2019 murder left another person seriously injured.

image

Sheriff: Heifer shot and butchered on farmer's pasture near Aitkin

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office.

SwearegeneMugDouglasCoJail

Minneapolis murder suspect arrested in Wisconsin

The man has been wanted by police since the shooting happened in April.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.51.01 PM

Watch: Tanker truck speeds towards protesters on I-35W bridge

The frightening scene unfolded just before 6 p.m.

Bogdan Vechirko

Tanker truck driver released from custody pending further investigation

Bogdan Vechirko was arrested after the terrifying incident on I-35W Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Trucker who drove toward protesters on I-35W bridge charged with felony

The 35-year-old from Otsego is also facing a gross misdemeanor charge.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Sauk Rapids releases 2 firefighters over offensive comments on protests

Both the firefighters made comments or shared posts suggesting protesters should be killed.

protesters, George Floyd, protest

MN mayor resigns after sharing meme of violence against protestors

The mayor of eight years said his sharing of the meme was taken out of context.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 9.35.56 PM

Police surround protesters, arrest crowd of 150 in Minneapolis

The group was surrounded by a large group of officers.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Peaceful protesters moving onto Interstate 94 in Twin Cities

There are protests throughout the Twin Cities ahead of curfew Sunday night.